Sunday Best

Remember when we dressed up for events?  Are you old enough to remember having “Sunday Best” clothes?  Did you have “school clothes”, “play clothes” and “Sunday best clothes”?  We did.

There was no way we were ever allowed outside on a Sunday afternoon without changing into play clothes.  When we went to Grandma’s house for Sunday dinner (another thing that has gone by the wayside for too many families) we had to pack an extra pair of play clothes or we were stuck in the house playing board games.  You see, we always went directly from church to Grandma’s for Sunday dinner and Grandma lived on a small farm; so plenty of mucky things to get into.

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My brother is the dapper dude in the hat. I’m the youngest girl.

Mom always made sure we were clean, neatly pressed and completely presentable when attending church, going to school or visiting anyone.  She believed her children were a reflection of herself, her ability to provide for her family and her competence in keeping house.  She always fussed at us to stand up straight, speak only to adults when spoken to and be on our best behavior.  But Mom was also practical and wanted our clothing to last until we outgrew them and could hand them down to the next in line.  So when visiting we always packed extra play clothes since we were rather unruly not in a bad way just kids being kids most of the time.  Life was too exciting to be any other way.

Those were the days when extended families got together on a weekly basis.  It was expected in the 1950’s and 1960’s and the way we grew up.  Most Sundays we were assured to see both sets of grandparents since they lived next door to each other.  Usually Mom’s family had us for dinner as my Dad’s mother did not have the patience to put up with the chaos that was our family.  With five children there was always chaos…wild imaginations on the loose were not tolerated in my paternal grandmother’s world. So, we ate Sunday dinner with them only a few times per year.

If we were eating Sunday dinner with Dad’s family it was at my Aunt Lorraine’s house not my grandparent’s home.  This photo was taken on Easter Sunday 1957 outside Aunt Lorraine’s home with my cousins. Check out those outfits.  Everyone is neatly pressed except my cousin Nick who probably already took a turn around the block on his bike since it was their house and he waited so long for all of us to get there. I’m sure Mom took this photo before dinner, before we had a chance to get dirty, before we needed to change into something more appropriate for playing outside.

I love this photo because it reminds me of a simpler time when extended families enjoyed each other’s company, they lived close enough to visit more often and people actually dressed a little nicer on Sundays and holidays.  Sometimes I wish we still kept those traditions.

What traditions do you keep when dressing for a holiday or family dinner?

 

 

 

10 comments

  1. Much like yours, except it was church, then home to change into our play clothes before dinner. Boxing day usually meant a trip to my grandfathers, where my aunt (his 4th wife) would have tried to cook a chicken, which if it wasn’t still bleeding, would bounce off the plate.
    We had school clothes and play clothes, plus Sunday Best, which never wore out because we only wore them once a week. I gave up on posh togs years ago, and that was before we got the boat.

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  2. One of the things I like about Romania (and it seems, many if not all eastern Eurpoean countries – eg Ilze’s family in Latvia) is the closeness of the extended family). So called more ‘developed’ western countries have largely lost it. As far as ‘Sunday best’ etc the same applies to some extent, in Romania certainly outside of the cities. A Sunday morning you wiill see people dressed on their way to church in suit/dress or, in the places where tradition is best preserved, in national dress. I would never have been allowed to go to church without being in my ‘best clothes’ (all made by mother) or even out of the house!

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    • It was nice to know that once a week you could count on people stopping long enough to clean up, dress in their best, and acknowledge the need to connect with others through church or family. I miss that connectedness with so many family members living so far away.

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  3. I had “school cloth”, “play cloth”, “for occasions” and cloth “for work” and those work clothes were for real hard work on the field or in the woods, etc. I still have a home and an outside home cloth, occasions and “gardening etc”. I try to teach my girls to live the same too.

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    • It’s important for little ones to not be encumbered by their clothing in order to be truly free to experience whatever life presents. Living in a rural area I’m sure your girls have plenty opportunities to explore and get into mucky things which is the best way to learn and experience life.

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      • yes, that is why monday morning is hard for me 🙂 I need to find something to wear from what is washed and hanged to air dry on sunday (and still is wet on monday morning!) 🙂

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  4. Oooh….tough job when you have to rely on the air to dry winter clothes. I sometimes hang things next to the furnace or on a radiator if I need it quicker. I am lucky to have clothes lines in my basement and cast iron radiators in my house for heat.

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